A month or so ago I cut the last tie I had to Paul’s family. I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say, my heart was broken and the only way to protect it is to be protective at the cost of hurting someone else’s heart.
Around that quite emotional time, I became aware that I’d misplaced my ring. The opal ring I bought up in Cairns when Paul and I had our last holiday together (our last trip together was in an ambulance).
I looked everywhere for that ring. Moved furniture, crawled around and ended up on my knees sobbing. I might never see that ring again. That ring that reminds me of seeing the Barrier Reef from a helicopter. That ring that bound up our last adventure together. Gone.
When Paul’s brother and I had our falling out, the next day Paul’s favourite print fell off the wall behind the sofa (where it still is, although I did clean up the glass). It shook me up. I apologised to Paul and eventually, I felt his forgiveness.
But not finding this ring felt like the ultimate angry act. A punishment or cold shoulder. I actually worried that my beautiful brown eyed boy in the afterlife was falling out of love with me. It made me cry more.
Work and emotion wore me down. I booked a trip to Bali with less than a week’s notice. I had my flatmate help me lift up the wood slats of my bed so that I could fish out my suitcase.
The week in Bali was huge for me. Although a popular Aussie haunt, this was my first time there. My first time to a South Pacific country other than New Zealand. An Asian country. What it did for me was firstly give me some closure. I’d been booked to go to Bali right after Paul died, but that trip got cancelled due to a volcano erupting.
Secondly, it made me feel like I’d accomplished something. I’d finally traveled to a foreign country! And by myself! I didn’t get sick, scammed or any other bad s thing. It made me chill out more about being in my early 50s. It made me proud and realise that I am a capable person who is also capable of fun and laughter without having a husband to shepherd me through things.
I started the trip wearing Paul’s wedding ring around my neck. I felt so badly that he wasn’t there to do this with me. When I went parasailing, I cried. Cried because he had never experienced this. And because I loved the peace of being up there. I felt alive, but disconnected due to the distance. And I wondered if that’s what dying was like.
I spent most of the next day just quietly, running a small errand, just walking for a while before getting a message and resting. I felt happy. I knew Paul was happy with me, happy I had finally gotten to travel. Wishing he were there with me.
I ended the week with white water rafting and on my last day, just lounged. Happy and fulfilled and complete. And knowing Paul would always love me and, to paraphrase Freud – a ring is sometimes just a ring.
When I got home, my flatmate helped me lift the bed slats. My hand froze on my suitcase and I dropped to my knees. Crying. There was the ring. It had been under my suitcase the whole time. I hadn’t seen it when I pulled my suitcase out.
My flatmate hugged me. I then put on the ring and cried some more. That beautiful confirmation that he loved me and always will. I really try not to be superstitious. But it felt so good to see that ring on my finger that I was on my knees and crying.